XENIA — It’s been a long journey for Cynthia “Cymp” Stemple — literally 5,052 miles from Xenia to Kyiv — but the busy cafe owner and volunteer says “she wouldn’t change a thing” about her missionary years in the western Ukraine.
After a brief period of training in Moscow, Stemple and her husband, Scott, were newlyweds when they decided to continue their ministry work with Campus Crusade for Christ in Kyiv. It was the fall of 1992, communism had fallen, and they thought Ukraine (the size of France) would be a good place to settle.
“We went into college dorms and talked to students about various topics and tried to answer their spiritual questions,” Stemple, owner of four local Coffee Hubs and operator of Hope Hub in Emerge (located in the former center of career). “For the first eight or nine years, Ukrainians worked with us because they knew the culture and the people. We raised our own financial support and asked churches to help us,” said Stemple, who also visited the Kyiv Polytech Institute (more than 30,000 engineers) and helped teach English to students.
Stemple loved the culture there and how Ukrainians liked to be outdoors.
“We often had picnics and cooked pork on a skewer over open coals, like a shishkabob,” she said, describing the climate as cold (like living in Upper Michigan). “The summers there are far too short. People tend to forget that Russia invaded Ukraine years ago. They took the port. Putin is on a power trip, he wants to reclaim old Russia. He says Ukraine is a puppet of America, because of its ties to the west.
“Our kids played basketball at school,” Stemple added. “Our daughter Mallory was a great dancer, all four children played basketball. Morena was 10 when we adopted her. We had three children when we adopted Morena. There are a lot of orphans there and we wanted help in some way,” Stemple said.
According to Stemple, Ukraine is the second largest country in Europe (more than 50 million inhabitants). Hryvnia is the currency of Ukraine while the religion is Orthodox.
“We have friends who are like family in Kyiv (central Ukraine) and L’viv (western Ukraine). My favorite memories were of course people. It was a beautiful country with mountains, a coast and beautiful farmland. I’ve been to the Black Sea several times,” said Stemple, who has also visited Greece, Italy, Hungary, Poland and many other countries during his 20 years abroad.
Stemple, who speaks both Russian and Ukrainian, is devastated by the situation in her adopted country and encourages Americans to send humanitarian aid.
Employees, customers and friends of Cynthia Stemple and Coffee Hub rally under the Ukrainian flag to show their solidarity with the war-torn country besieged by Russia.
Cynthia Stemple and her husband reunite with friends and colleagues at a mission camp in western Ukraine.
Contact Karen Rase at 937-502-4534